I despair of screaming this into the void, but voters are not primarily responding to inflation, they are responding to a massive, highly coordinated propaganda campaign across multiple media designed to freak them out about inflation.
Replace "inflation" in that tweet with literally anything else. The notion that voters are carefully assessing the evidence of their own local experience to draw conclusions about national affairs is a bit of folk wisdom US politics just won't let go.
It's like looking at hurricane damage & asking "how will voters respond to climate change?"

Yes, the damage is real, but what it *means* -- the emotional resonance, what it portends, who is at fault, the larger frame into which it fits -- is thoroughly mediated.
For example: why is inflation dominating headlines rather than the startling & spectacular decline in child poverty in the US? Voters just "naturally" care more about expensive milk than they do about kids not starving? huffpost.com/entry/inflatio…
Lots of very predictable bad takes in response to this. As always when inflation comes up, I highly recommend everyone read this interview w/ @JWMason1. Ask yourself whether the public understands this & if not, why not. nymag.com/intelligencer/…
Ask yourself if "and therefore, we need austerity" is just the natural, normal response of ordinary Americans to literally every economic phenomenon that comes along.
I should be doing ... anything else, but I can't help myself. I want to follow up on this, because "organic discontent" is actually a helpful way into the point I'm making.
What would "organic" as opposed to "artificial" (stoked, manufactured, hyped) discontent look like? Here's another way of phrasing the question: how would Americans react to the rising price of gasoline & groceries ...
... in the *absence* of a coordinated campaign by conservative pols, talking heads, tv shows, radio shows, & social media sites to hammer on it, frame it as a comprehensive apocalypse that will kill Christmas, & blame it on Biden's social spending?
Not just that: in the absence of a nigh 60-year propaganda campaign to convince Americans that gov't is incompetent, that social spending is always "wasteful," & that inflation is the inevitable consequences of low interest rates & gov't spending.
How would Americans react to rising prices (of a few key goods) if they were not swimming in that soup of conservative myths, tropes, & outright lies?

The answer, of course, is: we don't know. That counterfactual is so alien to our US experience we can scarcely imagine it.
I'm sure in any case Americans would *notice & dislike* expensive gas. But would they connect expensive gas & expensive shipped goods into some larger, independent, evil force called "inflation"? Would they view it as a catastrophe, even as many other economic indicators ...
... are positive & they're receiving Covid relief & CTC checks? Would they assume it must be the president's fault, & specifically the fault of social spending?

Those interpretive frames are not *inevitable*. They're not intrinsic to high prices. They're not "organic."
And really, insofar as "organic" means "unmediated" or "unshaped by interpretive frames common in culture," there is no such thing. We don't have any unmediated baseline to compare against. We can only imagine different mediation, different frames.
My simple point in all this is, we need to stop pretending (explicitly or implicitly) that public reaction/opinion is a direct, spontaneous response to facts on the ground. It *never* is, on *anything*. Everything is mediated, even personal experience.
And more specifically, in the US today, everything is mediated by the absolutely ubiquitous RW propaganda apparatus, which has been consciously seeding anti-gov't frames & myths for decades & explicitly uses every news event to reinforce them & advance its political interests.
I worry that we've gotten so used to this state of affairs that we've stopped noticing it, like fish don't notice water. We just revert to the naive interpretation: "oh, I guess when gas prices rise, Americans don't want universal pre-K or cheaper prescription drugs any more!"
I have no idea how to escape or change the polluted information/media environment we've created in this country. I don't have any "solution" for it. I guess the one thing I feel like I can do is pound the table & force people to at least *acknowledge* it.
It's real, it's out there, it's powerful, and it's the primary reason that Americans are reacting to rising prices *in the particular way they are*. Conservatives can pretend these reactions are inevitable or "natural," but the rest of us shouldn't.

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More from @drvolts

16 Nov
To state the obvious: every day that goes by without the BBB passing makes it less likely to pass. This has been true from the very beginning.
Slowdown "looms" in the Senate. Like it's weather or something & not the deliberate choices of corporate fuckfaces. bloomberg.com/news/articles/…
... aaaand voters should start experiencing benefits shortly after they elect a Republican House. politico.com/news/2021/11/1…
Read 4 tweets
15 Nov
A lot of commentary about COP26 seems to forget this basic background. COP agreements are just lists of voluntary national policies. The action is in domestic national politics. COP agreements can't make anyone do anything or punish anyone for failure. vox.com/2015/12/15/101…
There's no "breakthrough" at COP26 because that's not where policy is made -- it's made in national governments. Diplomats can only report what national governments will do, not determine it.
The best way to think about a COP is as a flash for a camera: it shines a big light that reveals where everyone is. And that's a good thing -- transparency & peer pressure can move national gov'ts sometimes. But a COP has little motive force of its own -- such is int'l politics.
Read 4 tweets
14 Nov
Zuckerburg, Jack, Musk ... they all started with mixed tendencies & over time have become utterly horrible (Jack is an inflation truther now!). IMO this has to do with the epistemic bubble that surrounds wealthy people in the US.
One of the best tools the 1% has developed is that when someone gets super-wealthy, there's a whole industry, a whole apparatus, that descends upon them to flatter them & fill their head with reactionary bullshit. Prevents any class traitors from emerging.
Adding: this also explains Joe Manchin, IMO. Sure his Dem colleagues plead w/ him, but in private, on the yacht, with his *real* buddies (other rich white guys), everybody just *knows* progressive policy is silly & unrealistic & causes "entitlement."
Read 4 tweets
14 Nov
There's really no way to exaggerate how fatalistic I feel about the next decade of US politics. nytimes.com/2021/11/12/us/…
“The prospect of being in the minority with Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House and Jason Smith as chairman of the Budget Committee — God, I could go down the list — is horrible." washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/styl…
Republicans have made Congress so viscerally unpleasant that it's making Dems want to retire, which of course is part of the point. If governing is nothing but endless reality-tv culture war, people who care about governance will flee.
Read 6 tweets
14 Nov
Thinking about the swing trend makes me think about how, back in the 90s, pop culture was still slow enough to allow a trend to clearly start, flourish, & end -- it had a kind of legible lifecycle we could move through together.
These days every young person is hyper media savvy before they're out of diapers. Social media is ubiquitous. Trends start, are critiqued, prompt backlash, prompt backlash-to-backlash, & lead to weary ironic over-it meta-takes ... all in a matter of hours.
Read 5 tweets
13 Nov
I'm old enough to remember when, around midnight, TV would just ... end. The 2 networks would play the national anthem & then show static until the following morning.

Kids These Days can't imagine anything different, but the 24-7 hose of content is a relatively new thing.
Er, 3 networks. Weird typo.
I'm also old enough to remember when VCRs came along (at like $500 a pop at first). Kids These Days probably can't imagine, but the default until then was that video content (TV or movies) aired once & then ... was gone forever. *Owning* a piece of content was a mind-blower!
Read 5 tweets

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